By Kristy Siegfried | 6 September, 2019
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Turkey warns of new wave of Syrian refugees to Europe. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned on Thursday that he would “open the gates” to allow Syrian refugees to leave Turkey for Europe if he does not get more international support for creating a “safe zone” in north-eastern Syria. Last month, the United States backed a plan to establish a safe zone, but Ankara and Washington are reportedly at odds over its size and oversight. Erdoğan also complained that Turkey had only received €3 billion of the €6 billion pledged by the EU in 2016 as part of an agreement to curb movements of refugees and migrants to Europe from Turkey. Natasha Bertaud, an EU Commission spokesperson, said €5.6 billion had been disbursed. The 2016 agreement helped to ease pressure on Greece, but recent weeks have seen a sharp increase in arrivals on the Greek islands. Meanwhile Turkish officials fear that heavy fighting in Syria’s north-western province of Idlib could push more refugees into Turkey.
Unaccompanied children protest conditions at Greek island reception centre. Scuffles broke out on Wednesday at the Moria reception centre on the Greek island of Lesvos following a protest by a group of unaccompanied children who demanded to be transferred to the mainland. The Greek government has this week moved some 1,500 asylum-seekers from Lesvos to the mainland to relieve overcrowding at Moria caused by a spike in arrivals. Philippe Leclerc, UNHCR’s representative in Greece, who was on Lesvos at the time, said that frontline countries such as Greece needed “solidarity in action” from other EU Member States, including through the relocation of asylum-seekers, particularly unaccompanied minors. He urged Greek authorities to move more people to the mainland and to improve access to health care and education for those still waiting.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Bittersweet homecoming for Central African Republic’s returning refugees. More than six months after a peace deal between the government of the Central African Republic and rebel groups, small numbers of refugees have started returning home. Reporting for The New Humanitarian, photojournalist Adrienne Surprenant followed a convoy of 346 refugees travelling with UNHCR from a camp in the Republic of the Congo to towns and villages in CAR. Her photos capture their joy at reuniting with friends and family, and their anxiety at returning to areas where social services are still desperately lacking. Underscoring the fragility of the peace deal, clashes on Sunday between two rebel groups in the north-east caused thousands more people to flee their homes.
How a conservative Australian town rallied behind a family facing deportation. This week Australian media have been reporting on the complex developments surrounding the case of an asylum-seeking Tamil family currently in detention on Christmas Island who are appealing their deportation to Sri Lanka. The Washington Post reports that residents of the rural town of Biloela, in north-east Australia, where the family lived for four years before being detained last year, have campaigned vigorously against the family’s deportation, “becoming the unlikely champion of immigration reform along the way”. After being accepted as core members of the community, the family’s arrest galvanized a movement among residents in the politically conservative town.
Venezuelans brave mountainous trek to reach safety. Venezuelan refugees and migrants who lack the funds to travel by bus to reach Colombian cities or neighbouring countries are trekking hundreds of kilometres from the Colombian border on foot. The journey involves climbing from near sea level to an altitude of over 3,000 metres as walkers, known as “caminantes”, approach the Berlín mountain pass. UNHCR reports that many of them are ill-equipped for the frigid temperatures at the top of the pass and drape themselves with whatever they can to stave off the cold. Some eat and sleep at shelters along the way, but others are forced to sleep along the side of the road. In this video, one woman explains why she felt she had no choice but to risk the journey with her three young children.
Germany registers 600 attacks on refugees in first half of 2019. German police registered a total of 609 attacks on refugees and asylum-seekers during the first half of 2019, according to German daily Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. The government gave the figure in response to a question in parliament. The crimes ranged from verbal insults and harassment to physical assaults and attacks on refugee shelters and aid organizations. Authorities classified all the attacks as “right-wing politically-motivated crimes”. They resulted in 102 people being injured, including seven children. A quarter of the attacks took place in the state of Brandenburg, which surrounds the country’s capital, Berlin.
Rwandan artist Djamal Ntagara keeps his home in Kigali open to all fellow artists, including Burundian refugee Mike Katihabuga. The two young friends exhibit their work side by side. “Helping people doesn’t mean you need something big,” says Djamal. “A small thing you have got, and a good heart… they can be enough to help someone.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Some 111,000 refugee children worldwide were registered as being without a parent or family member to take care of them at the end of 2018.